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Baltimore Sun

Justice Department warns WWE about giving away merchandise at voting polls

In the latest – and hopefully final – twist – to a story that has become increasingly ridiculous, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to WWE's lawyer Monday stating that WWE's plan to distribute WWE clothing to voters near certain polling places in Connecticut today is a violation of federal law.

WWE responded by issuing a news release that said, "Under this ambiguous threat of legal action by the U.S. Department of Justice, WWE has reluctantly decided not to give away WWE merchandise near select polling stations."

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WWE had previously announced that it was going to give away the merchandise to celebrate the rescinding of Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz's directive that poll workers could ask voters wearing WWE merchandise to cover it up before voting.Bysiewicz, a Democrat, said that wearing the merchandise could be interpreted as campaigning for former WWE CEO Linda McMahon, the Republican Senate candidate. Campaigning – which includes wearing political paraphernalia – within 75 feet of polling places is illegal in the state.

I thought Bysiewicz's initial decision was an example of politics winning out over common sense, and I was glad to see her reverse it (after WWE CEO Vince McMahon filed a lawsuit, of course).

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However, I also thought WWE was taking things a step too far with the merchandise giveaway. I believe WWE knew that such a stunt would generate a reaction from the Justice Department, and that would allow the company to once again portray itself as the victim.

"This is clearly heavy-handed bullying from big government and would appear to be desperate political activity in closely contested elections in Connecticut," Vince McMahon said in a news release.


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